What to expect on the day of IELTS Exam

What to expect on the day of IELTS Exam
What to expect on the day of IELTS Exam

Days and months of sweat and work and finally the test day arrives. Besides good preparation, efficient management leads to a successful exam day. Battling nerves, anxiety becomes a natural part of the process. But when there is right information at disposal, the journey to the finish line becomes smooth and easy. What follows now will serve as a useful guide for all your IELTS test woes. Let’s get started!

Road to the Finish Line

 A week before

The week leading up to the IELTS exam is as significant as the main day. In order to feel a sense of confidence while appearing for your IELTS test, it’s important that one builds a certain ease with the IELTS exam pattern. It will be helpful if during the week prior to the main IELTS test, you make English a part of your everyday routine. Maximum use of English in either reading, conversing or even exercising to think in the language will greatly enhance one’s capacity to successfully appear for the test. One of the easiest ways to do that is by reading English newspapers, watching English news channels, listening to English music and practice speaking in English as much as possible.

Being highly familiar with the actual test pattern will prove to be very helpful on the exam day. Taking maximum number of full IELTS mock tests will be very useful.

  • Make sure that you take at least one or two full length practice tests before the exam.
  • Go through various topics for IELTS Writing and Speaking
  • Practice taking a full IELTS writing paper a week before.
  • Sit down and take a final full-length test, with time limit, two days before the actual test.
  • There are numerous practice tests available on the official British Council, IDP websites.
  • It is advisable to check the venue of your final IELTS well in advance.

On the last day

The most important thing to do before the final day of the exam is to thoroughly check all the procedures for the test day. Your confirmation e-mail and SMS from British Council or IDP is the best source to build your to-do list.

  • Start time of the test
  • Location/Venue
  • Identification Documents to carry – It is compulsory to carry your original valid passport for both Speaking and Listening-Reading-Writing Test
  • Check the speaking test schedule through your test center account
  • Make sure you carry the necessary stationary
  • You will be provided with water bottle in the test, however you are allowed to carry a clear water bottle. Have a proper meal as you will be in the test center for 4-5 hours
  • Sleep well on time before the test day.

Besides the above list, it’s important that one goes through the IELTS test terms and conditions carefully. Lastly, keep in mind that you gave in your best, you are well prepared and confident. So, don’t fret and take the last day off.

The D-Day

Being well versed with the day’s proceedings will ensure that test taker have a stress-free day. For better clarity refer to the following Do’s and Don’ts list.

Before the test – Do’s

  1. Timing is key – Check the entry time on the day of the test and make sure you reach the venue well in advance. Late entries will not be allowed.
  2. Necessary documents – Verify that you carry original valid passport as the identification document
  3. Comfortable Clothing – Since the test is long and you might have to be at the venue for most of the day. It’s important to be in appropriate clothing
  4. Drinking/Eating well – The Reading, Listening, Writing test are 2 hours 40 minutes long with no breaks. Make sure eat well before.
  5. Using Toilets – Once you enter the examination hall, you can use toilets only in reading and writing sections as per the discretion of the invigilators In case of emergency during the test, you can raise your hand and the invigilator will attend to you. However, you will lose precious time.
  6. Mobile Phones – Phones or other electronic items are not allowed inside the test hall. You can carry a transparent bottle of water with you.
  7. Procedural Norms – Be prepared that the staff will compulsorily take your photo before you sit for the test. This is for the purpose of Test Report Form. In all cases, a finger scan will be taken
  8. Personal Belongings – No watch or any electronic items or any other belongings are allowed inside the test room. However, there will be a secure area provided for them. The responsibility for your belongings will not be taken by the test centers. So, it’s advisable you leave your valuables at home.


  1. Don’t be late. Arrive early.
  2. Don’t forget your required identification documents.
  3. Don’t carry unnecessary belongings, since they won’t be allowed inside the exam hall
  4. Don’t panic

During the test

The IELTS test consists of the Reading, Listening, Writing and Speaking sections. The first three are for a duration of 2 hours and 40 minutes. All sections need to be dealt with in slightly different manner. It’s important to be alert and pay attention to the instructions provided during the test. For better clarity, let’s look at how to approach each section individually.

Listening Test

Listening section is the first in the order of the three tests. This test basically assesses your listening and comprehension skills. From start to finish this part lasts for 40 minutes, wherein 30 minutes are provided for the IELTS listening recording.  Here are a few pointers to consider for this section:

  • Headphones will be provided. Make sure that your equipment is working properly. If not, you can raise hand and the invigilator will see to the problem
  • Once the listening recording ends, an extra 10 minutes ae given to transfer answers to the answer sheets.
  • In case of computer-delivered IELTS test, test takers will be given 2 minutes for revising answers.
  • Time is given to read questions before the start of the recording
  • Make sure that you spell correctly while writing answers on the answer sheet. Wrong spellings will be marked wrong.

 Reading Test

This section essentially involves reading and comprehending passages. Reading skill is not something that can be developed overnight. It is beneficial if test takers practice enough comprehension passages beforehand.

  • Read all instructions thoroughly.
  • Unlike the listening test, no extra time is provided for transferring answers. Answers are to be written directly on the answer sheet.
  • Understand and analyze the question first
  • If it takes you long on a particular question, move on to the next. Don’t be stuck.
  • There is no need to understand the whole passage. The key is the find answers to the relevant question
  • Time management is essential. Make sure you have one eye on the clock.

Writing Test

 As the name suggests, this section evaluates the test takers’ writing skills. Writing is not a skill that’s developed overnight, it’s an ongoing process. The more a test taker practices writing essays or in any other form, the better it is. However, it will be helpful if you read the following tips a day before the test:

  • This section consists of two writing tasks and lasts for a duration of 60 minutes.
  • Managing time on the two tasks is essential. It is recommended to spend more time (approximately 40 minutes) on the second task
  • Word count matters. Recommended word count : Task 1- atleast150 words

Task 2- atleast 250 words

  • Plan the structure and body of your essay before writing
  • Writing Conclusion is very important, especially for task 2.
  • Any grammatical or spelling errors will cost you marks. Make sure you check hem thoroughly.
  • Make sure your writing stays relevant to what is asked in the question.
  • You can always ask the invigilator for extra answer sheet, in case you run out of it.
  • If you are taking a computer delivered IELTS test, make sure you edit your writing as necessary.

Speaking Test

 This section looks into the ease, fluidity and command the test taker has over the English Language. It basically evaluates how comfortable the test taker is in conversing in English. Clearly, there is no one way to ace this section, but practicing English speaking as much as possible will be extra beneficial. Expression and Clarity here is key.

  • Make sure to check your speaking test schedule beforehand. It is different from the Listening, Reading, Writing tests.
  • It is important if the test taker practices expression and delivery. Try to think and express opinions in English as much as possible. This will ensure better fluency and clarity of thought.
  • Take mock interview tests before if felt necessary.
  • This not a formal job interview, so don’t be nervous. Be confident and consider this as holding a normal conversation.
  • Pay attention to the questions being asked and answer promptly and accordingly.
  • Focus on the flow and maintain the momentum. Avoid breaks in your conversation.
  • Use uncommon words to enhance your score in Lexical Resources criteria.
  • Mixed accents, American, British etc. are all acceptable.
  • You will be provided with pen and paper in the Part 2 ie Long Turn or Cue Card section..
  • Don’t panic if the examiner interrupts you, this is normal. Keep going and don’t interrupt the flow.
  • If you have any problems during the test, voice your concerns to the examiner.
  • Be as calm and friendly as possible.

End of the Test

The IELTS test is finally over and you are across the finish line.

  • Even though the test has ended, you must wait for further instructions.
  • If you feel that you encountered any issues that may have affected the way you performed in the test, make note to the invigilator straight away.
  • In case you have any complaints regarding the test day, you can make a complaint. A window of one week is provided to lodge the complaint and you will have to fill in a Test Day Incident Form.
  • Test results can be checked within 13 days of the test day. In case of a computer-delivered test, results are available in 5-7 days.
  • Results can be checked online or in some cases provided via SMS
  • Results are recorded on the Test Report Form. Make sure to check that.

Addressing Anxiety

Unfortunately, anxiety and stress have seeped into every aspect of our lives. Appearing for an important test is no different. But, if these issues are handled carefully, accomplishing any task becomes a child’s play. The root cause of all stress and nervousness is in not knowing what to expect. Anticipation leads to anxiety. It’s the same as learning to swim or drive for the first time. It’s the fear of the unknown that breeds distress. All these apply to the IELTS test as well.

  • How will the test be?
  • Will it be difficult or easy?
  • What will happen on the day of the test?
  • How will I perform?
  • What should I be doing before the test?

All these concerns are genuine and quite natural for any test taker. Information is of utmost value if used effectively Thus, this article. It can be used as a helpful guide that aids in addressing all these issues. Hopefully, the road to your IELTS test will be a smooth one. Good Luck!

For more details and a *Free mock test and assessment, you can contact the Certified Trainers (from British Council & IDP) of Mindmine Global.


Harpal Singh completed his graduation from Delhi College of Arts and Commerce (DCAC), Delhi University and thereafter did his Post Graduation studies from Birla Institute of Management Technology (BIMTECH) and International Management Institute (IMI), Delhi. He has worked in the financial sectors with organisations like HDFC and Kotak in sales and training profile and joined the education sector with the biggest education company – Educomp Solutions Ltd. in 2011. He got an opportunity to introduce Digital Learning in thousands of classrooms of the schools and also interacted with a large number of students and teachers. This motivated him to start his own venture in 2014 to train and counsel the young learners with the help of the latest technology and teaching methodologies.
He is one of the most sought after IELTS trainers in the world right now and has trained students from India, UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Nepal, Uganda and Middle East countries. Harpal Singh is a certified trainer from – British Council, IDP, Pearson – PTE, TOEFL and Cambridge.
He has keen interest in counselling students for Study Abroad opportunities and professionals for PR in various countries. All his students are either studying in various prestigious institutes abroad or pursuing their dream careers in countries like Canada or Australia as permanent residents.